By Salem Lorot
Not many would fit into the shoes of Cecilia Mwangi. Fewer would accomplish half of what she has done so far. This 27 year-old soft-spoken, congenial, sociable and a ‘mover and shaker’ in Kenya’s and world’s response to the jigger problem is an example worth emulating. She now joins the list of the “who is who” chosen to be Olympic Torchbearers in London later in the year. She would be carrying the flame through Solihull on 1st July 2012. Some of the Torchbearers are Carney Bonner, Daphne Edwards, James Bailey, Ross Langworthy, Liana Tolland, Natalie Hawkins and numerous others whose nomination stories are extra-ordinary.
Cecilia’s was part of the tens of thousands of nominations received between May and June last year and of the cut-throat competition of selecting the best 8,000 people. In fact, one stood a chance of one in 11 of being a Torchbearer! The Olympic Torch Relay is a spectacular event and the Torchbearers will carry the Flame through more than 1,000 cities, town and villages in the UK. The event will take 70 days across the UK from 19th May to 27th July 2012.
Cecilia Mwangi graduated on 15th July 2008, with a 2nd second class upper division Degree in Bsc. Computer Technology from JKUAT, Kenya.She was the Miss World Kenya crown holder 2005 and is now a household name in the anti-jiggers campaign. Through the Ahadi Kenya Trust, she has been the project ambassador.
Projects she has been involved in:
1. Shangilia Mtoto Wa Africa: This is a school for homeless and orphaned kids. They teach performing arts and have recently put up a music production studio. Cecilia spends her time there most Sundays. She had a special treat for them, August, 2006 where they had their hair done, boys had theirs cut, manicures and pedicures and generally had fun. She has made it her home and will pop in any time not necessarily to take something but to just check on them.
2. Mukuru Kayaba: This is a slum bordering South B. Cecilia works with the youth here and she initiated the Miss Mukuru crown. The girls were very enthusiastic and 19 of them enrolled. She donated the crown and catered for the function. The youth have taken this initiative very positively and Cecilia just offers supervisory support, they are in charge and they have recently began a project where they make detergents in form of liquid soap for sale. The holder of the Miss Mukuru crown has the responsibility of enlightening the youth on early pregnancy, drug abuse etc. Cecilia is working on a feeding programme which she hopes will be working soon,
3. Machakos - Community school: This is an institution that takes care of orphans in Machakos. She went with Nakumatt and they donated blankets, foodstuffs and entertainment equipment like TVs, DVDs, CDs etc.
4. Wema Centre: This is a home for abandoned girls in Mombasa. Here they provide education, food and accommodation. Cecilia makes regular visits and donates sanitary pads and gives them talks on being responsible in society and how to handle stigmatization.
5. Kibera Slums: Most schools in Kibera do not have text books for the students and they rely on the one text book the teacher has. KIE together with the British Army paid a visit together with Cecilia and donated 1000 text books for schools in Kibera. She is currently working on a feeding programme proposal with the British Army.
5. Visit to Maendeleo ya Wanawake Organisation: Cecilia Mwangi with Chairperson Rukia Subow where M.Y.W.O. promised commitment to support the anti-jigger campaign and mobilize its countrywide network to fight the jigger menace. Cecilia signed up to become a member of the Maendeleo ya Wanawake Organisation.
7. She was also awarded with a Service Award 2009 as the Youngest Distinguished Alumni of JKUAT on 9th May 2009.
8. She has also been recognized by Women Students’ Welfare Association (WOSWA) an initiative of University of Nairobi with a Young Achiever Award. They recognized her efforts in making a difference in the society by undertaking the Anti-jigger campaign with zeal and confidence, an example which the young ladies should emulate.
What the Future holds
It is amazing how Cecilia Mwangi, through Ahadi Kenya Trust, and with the joint efforts of the Founder and the other officials, has spun the story of jiggers in Kenya. Despite all the challenges, Ahadi Kenya Trust has helped address the nightmare victims of jigger infestation are facing. It has been through this intervention that the population has been made aware that the situation has been a deeper one than they have always thought. In fact, the underlying issues of chronic poverty, lack of hygiene, inadequacy or total lack of water are closely tied with jigger infestation. It is because of this realization that Ahadi Kenya Trust has embarked on a program to establish income-generating activities for the affected families.
All we can say is that what Cecilia Mwangi and her colleagues at Ahadi Kenya Trust are doing is noble and that her recognition as a Torchbearer at the Olympics will help tell her story, which is our common story, that we could help address societal problems in our different capacities.
The Chicamod will be waiting with bated breath on 1st of July this year to see Cecilia Mwangi carrying the Flame. Hongera dada!
Salem Lorot is a lawyer currently pursuing a post-graduate diploma in law. He is a published poet with a running blog, echoes of the hills , a writer and an avid reader. He has written extensively on a wide range of issues on law and society. He is a connoisseur of the music in East Africa, fashion, cuisine and his regular staple is the entertainment industry with the manifold twists and turns. His interests are informed by themes of social justice and interactions with diverse groups in Kenya.
Photo Credits: The Kenyan Post